October 21, 2008

The tree-scraped skies

P.S. Title is a phrase from an essay Dybek apparently wrote in 4th grade. The piece also has a great anecdote about an experience he had while he was enrolled for his Ph. D. in the esteemed University of Iowa program.
“I had never met a real writer at that point, and it was only after I got there, in the company of people like Richard Yates, Cheever, Don Justice, that I began to realize the enormous commitment writing really demanded.” He surrendered completely to his writing, taking poetry and fiction workshops simultaneously.

His classmates—among them Tracy Kidder, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Denis Johnson, Larry Levis, Laura Jensen, Thom Jones, and Michael Ryan—challenged and inspired Dybek, but he also grew weary of the place on occasion. Dybek recalls: “I was walking across a parking lot in the rain, talking to Jon Jackson, and saying to him, ‘I don’t think I could stand reading another goddamn worksheet this semester’ ”—worksheets were how student work was distributed in those days, on mimeographs—“and suddenly, a wet piece of paper was stuck to my foot, and I pulled it off, and I said, ‘Look, it’s a goddamn worksheet! You can’t even walk without them sticking to you.’ And I looked at it, and I started reading it, and they were these fantastic poems. They were by Tom Lux. So it was that kind of place, where you’d be walking across the parking lot in the rain, and suddenly you’d be reading this wonderful stuff.”
Good writing is of a similar kind...it sticks to you and won't let go long after you are done reading.

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At the school dances white and black girls shook on the floor, by Anais Duplan

Today, a poem  by  Anaïs Duplan,  from the Bennington Review. [AT THE SCHOOL DANCES WHITE AND BLACK GIRLS SHOOK ON THE FLOOR.]  ...